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Charley Pride Biography

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Birth Name: Charley Frank Pride
Born: 1938/03/18
Birth Place: Sledge, Mississippi, United States
Years Active: 1966-present
Genres: Country Music

Charley Frank Pride was born in Sledge, Mississippi on March 18, 1938 and is a country music singer. Pride has amassed 39 #1 hit singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart over the course of his career. Pride was at the height of his success during the 1970s, as one of the highest-selling performers on the RCA Records label. Pride also attained notoriety for being the only African-American performer to be successful in the country music scene, and to be inducted into the Grand Ole Opry.

Pride grew up around music and was playing guitar by the time he was in his teens, however, he also dreamed of being a professional baseball player and in 1952 he pitched for the Memphis Red Sox, and a year later he signed a contract with the Boise Yankees. Pride's career was moving forward before being called to military service. Upon departing the army two years later, Pride tried to make a comeback in baseball, with no luck. During the 1960's Pride decided to pursued a career in music instead.

In 1965, Pride met future agent and manager, Jack D. Johnson in Nashville and was signed by Chet Atkins, on Johnson's referral, to RCA Records. 1966 saw Pride release his first single, “The Snakes Crawl at Night,” with RCA Records. However, the song was a commercial failure and did not chart. It took three efforts for Pride to hit the mark. His third single, “Just Between You and Me,” was a huge success and garnered Pride some attention from country music audiences. The song peaked at #9 on Billboard Country chart, and earned Pride a Grammy Award the following year.

1967 saw Pride perform at the Grand Ole Opry and ABC's, “The Lawrence Welk Show.” As a result of the television performances, Pride saw an increase in record sales with eight #1 hit singles on the Billboard Country chart, and the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart over the next four years.

1969 saw a compilation album from Pride, “The Best of Charley Pride,” which sold over one million copies and turned gold status. Pride also contributed to the soundtrack of the Paul Newman film “Sometimes a Great Notion” in 1970. The film went on to earn two Oscar nominations in 1972, one for Pride's song.

Pride was able to maintain success during the 1970s and into the 1980s, some of his hits include “Mississippi Cotton Picking Delta Town,” “Someone Loves You, Honey,” “When I Stop Leavin' (I'll Be Gone),” “Burgers and Fries,” “I Don't Think She's in Love Anymore,” “Roll On Mississippi,” “Never Been So Loved (In All My Life)” and “You're So Good When You're Bad.” 1986 saw Pride depart RCA Records after a 20 year partnership. Pride became upset with the label for their lack of focus on him and more focus on the new and up-coming artists.

Pride signed with 16th Avenue Records, and released his #5 hit single, “Shouldn't it be Easier Than This.” Pride went on to score a number of moderate hits with 16th Ave throughout the late 80s and early 90s. By the time 2000 rolled around, Pride began to slow down musically. He still performed on occasion and continued to write new material until the late 2000's. In 2008, Pride received the Mississippi Arts Commission's Lifetime Achievement Award' for 'Excellence in the Arts.